How Do You Self Identify?

Funny

Left to right- Micah Metz, Nathan Metz, Gingerbread Man (no relation), Dan Metz, Luke Metz

This is a snapshot of the kind of ridiculous humor my family enjoys. We thought it would be funny if only Dad and the gingerbread man were smiling; it was. The men in our family are serious about our relationships with God and family and how we can make an impact in the world. However, we aren’t serious about much else when we’re together. The women in our lives are much the same but not quite as ridiculous.

Why am I showing you this picture? This was my last Christmas with my brother Nathan and his family for three years because they left for Uganda. I wouldn’t be being honest if I said it was easy. It is one of the hardest things I’ve done in a while. Selfishly, I wish there was a teleporter of some kind so they could do their work there and come back to hang out and share life with us, too. Sadly, that’s not possible.

There’s a lot more to this story than just sad feelings and fond memories. It all started in Van Buren, Indiana, back when I was engaged and waiting for my fiancé, Maggie, to graduate so we could get married. I had a dream of becoming a resident director at a Christian college and felt God really tugging on me to pursue this dream with my all. I agreed to do that and looked for colleges to apply to all over the nation. But in my heart, I refused to leave Indiana.

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Our family in 2010

Meanwhile, God was working in my brother and sister-in-law’s (Jade) hearts as Nathan led worship at his church and they grew in Christ right before our eyes. Their adoption of their son, Ezra, from Uganda and their work in the orphanage there had shown some deeper desires in their hearts for Uganda and for missions.

My brother Luke had been pursuing a job as an actuary where he could use his God given gifts, and his wife, Katie, was doing the same thing as she taught math. They were not too far away, living in Indianapolis and doing what they were made to do; both of them made us very proud.

Lastly, Dad and Mom were a successful pastor and wife for 15 years at a little church called Farrville outside of Van Buren. We had grown up there, and everyone who went there was and are family to us. Life was good, and God was working in our family. We all spent lots of weekends together and stayed very close. Then everything changed.

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Our family in 2017

At church on a Sunday morning, my dad announced that for years God had been calling them into full-time ministry—my dad was a part-time pastor—and they would be leaving the church. It was a bomb shell, and from there my world and our families’ worlds would get much bigger.

In the same year, my parents would move to Cincinnati to become full-time pastors, my wife and I would move to Kansas to become resident directors, my brother Nathan and his family would plan to move to Uganda as missionaries, and my brother Luke’s family would start growing in Indianapolis. What just happened?

God is not tidy and comfortable, He stretches us to make sure that He is who we lean on. John 16:33 (NIV) says, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” For years, we had followed our Dad’s— the patriarch —example. And in one fell swoop, Dad left it all and showed us all that following God is a sacrifice.

Moving to Kansas to become an R.D. was probably one of the hardest things Maggie and I have ever done. I’m sure the same is true for my other family members who pursued what God had for them. Hopefully, this gives an insight to what our family has gone through. But I can tell you with great confidence that my family loves Jesus more than we ever did before. For that, we regret nothing.

Of course, my brother moving to Uganda, Africa—across the world—with his whole family is hard; it’s heart wrenching! It does not change the fact that God needs him and his family there now to run the race set before them. 1 Corinthians 9:24 (NIV) states, “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.”

I do not tell you this story to praise my family and say we are great; only God is great. Even though I miss them and will miss them greatly over the next three years as their children grow and so do mine—our baby girl will be born in February, and they will not meet until she’s 3—this story is not rare, these sacrifices are not rare. This is the life of a missionary, of so many of our missionaries. I am a missionary. My Dad is a missionary. My brothers are missionaries. Are you a missionary?

ACT: Think about what it means to live missionly. If you need help finding your path or finding out how you can get involved today, contact us at wgm.org/contactus. We would love to help you on your pursuit to win the prize for the race God has set before you.

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The Metz kids back in Uganda ready for school. Photo credit: Nathan and Jade Metz

 

The Heart Priority

Depending on the Lord to provide for your family’s entire financial support is tough. This is normal life, however, for missionaries. But where does the line stop? How do you balance the mission of raising support and the idea that we are responsible to do our best and still trust God? Justin Williams, missionary to Uganda, explores this very question in his latest post.

Funding.  It seems to be hardwired into every missionary that is living and doing ministry on a support basis.  There have been times in my life where you could ask me what our percentage was at and I could rattle it off down to the decimal.  There have been times (more recently than I care to admit) that I incorporated it into every conversation (I’m sorry if I’ve done this to you).  While it is the job of the missionary to pursue financial support, I recognized something today that filled me so full of joy that I just about wept as it unfolded.  I recognized a heart shift that has taken the “funding is my responsibility” perspective, lit it on fire, threw it in a barrel and rolled it down a large hill.  Seems drastic doesn’t it.  Admit it, you liked the idea of a burning barrel rolling down a hill.  You pyro!

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Photo credit: Justin and Debby Williams

Today started with what seemed like a meeting opportunity that wasn’t going the way I wanted it to go.  I had a conversation here or there about our family, our ministry, our plans, God’s vision and it all seemed to follow the general guidelines of what is acceptable missionary marketing.  As I moved from conversation to conversation, I assessed how well I was doing at presenting myself and our ministry.  Now scientists have a name for this, it’s called “stupid”.  As if somehow I was going to say some magic words that would make money magically appear in our ministry account.  I realized in the next few moments how little this mattered to me and how the “God will take care of your needs” perspective would prove to be the only true method.

I received a phone call from a student that I love a lot.  To be fair, I love all of my students a lot and just because you graduate or leave the country doesn’t mean that I will leave you alone SO DON’T TRY TO GET AWAY FROM ME!  Awkward.  In all seriousness, this is what happens.  God puts you into a life at a point in time and says, this is the person or people that you are going to love and serve and I’ll give you everything you need to do it.  Boy does He ever.  You never forget them, you never stop caring about them, you laugh and cry at the memories and conversations that you still get to have.  It’s the greatest and most painful gift that we have ever been given and we wouldn’t change it for anything, ever.

I left the meetings, as if God had handed me a note that said, “you have an urgent phone call and it needs your attention, now”.  I got on the phone, trusting that God would give me the words to say and the spirit to identify and uplift.  For 40 minutes, I reconnected with this very special student in a way that only God could have woven.  We talked about heavy things and we laughed at my stupid jokes.  In the end, this amazing friend was uplifted, out of chaos and enjoying the joy of life.  It wasn’t me, it was He.  He knew what to say and He knew how to say it.  He knows how to make everyone feel important.  He always does.  That’s why that conversation was the only thing that mattered at that moment.  I wanted this amazing young person to know the love of the Savior and praise God, she got it.  And that is it, isn’t it.  At one point in time, I felt as though I was on the underbelly of society where everyone goes to suffer, die and be forgotten completely and utterly without value.  The place where hope dares not to go.  Yet He came down there, didn’t He, took our hands, saved us, loved us beyond explanation and seated us at His table.  Me?  Yep, and the fact that He let me work with Him today to love and serve and encourage just dropped me to my knees in utter gratitude.

When I hung up, I just couldn’t stop smiling.  I was filled to the brim to know that I had loved as Jesus loves and that my heart’s priority had been demonstrated in the zero hesitation to take a phone call and serve my sweet friend.  I am the richest man alive, because my Savior has redeemed me, loves me and somehow has found a way to use me.

Oh, by the way, as I forgot about the funding aspect and concentrated on the loving service and outreach, we picked up four new monthly partners (that we know of) and a loving pastor of an amazing church that we’ve only spoken to once came up to us after this and said, “let me know if you guys need more funding, we’d love to help.”  There is no one like our God!

 

The Waiting Game

God asks me to wait so often that sometimes I wonder if He understands the concept of time. Then I remember He created it. Do you every feel this way? Jeff and Christine Stanfield, who have served as missionaries in Kenya and now Uganda since 1990, have experienced similar feelings. Read on for an update and life lesson from Christine as she explores the idea of God as our gardener.

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Photo credit: Christine Stanfield

We moved to Uganda late in 2012. In February of 2013 we planted two starts of lemon trees. We asked, “How long does it take for lemon trees to bear fruit?” The answer we received was, “Usually 4-5 years here.”

That sounded about like forever then. However, we were delighted to discover in the spring months of 2017 that our lemon trees were blooming. “Don’t get too excited,” we told ourselves. “The trees may just bloom this first year and not yield any real fruit. But just imagine NEXT year!” Yumm, we could almost taste the lemon!

We have been thinking a lot about first fruit. We are about to complete our first term (two years) in the position of Country Director of WGM in Uganda. We feel like first fruit times. We had our scraggly spots through the term. We were cautious about the beginning.

To read the rest of this story, visit the Stanfields’ ministry blog.

ACT: Meditate on the idea that God’s plan for you at this moment could be to wait. God asks so many things of us; and oftentimes, when He asks us to wait, we can get impatient. Today, ask yourself, “What can I be learning about God? How can I grow closer to Him while I wait and look forward to what’s next?”

It All Starts with a Seed

Three students met together for Bible study and fellowship and to encourage one another in their Christian walks. The University Discipleship Movement in East Africa began at Kampala International University in Uganda with that seed in 2002. The students met only once a week and each attended their own churches on Sundays.

As time went on, more students joined the fellowship and other groups began to form. Eventually, the students started United Faith Chapel, a thriving community of believers and a full-fledged, student-led church in Kampala.

But God’s transforming work did not stop in Kampala. As the ministries at United Faith Chapel grew, students at other universities throughout East Africa asked the church to help them create their own student-led ministries, leading to the expansion of UDM. WGM is a part of this student-led movement, and Jonathan Mayo is one missionary who is very passionate and excited for how UDM is spreading throughout East Africa.

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Photo credit: Mayos

In the Mayos’ latest newsletter, Jonathan stated, “Our passion is to disciple and mentor students who will transform their world for Jesus Christ.”

“We have been blessed to see God’s kingdom grow during our years in Uganda. We have seen the missionary force grow, the church grow, Heritage International School grow, and the university ministries grow. In the last few years, our focus has been on students, both in universities and at Heritage. Students are growing closer to Jesus and are being challenged to be change agents for Him in their communities and countries. Heritage has students from over 25 countries. On the 20 university campuses where we work, the students represent at least 11 African countries. The mission field has come to us as we disciple and mentor these students. They have the potential to return to their home countries and bring transformation to their nations. Some who have graduated are now serving as lawyers, pastors, doctors, politicians, missionaries, and teachers. The potential for their impact is limitless!”

Praise God for this amazing ministry WGM is so fortunate to be a part of! If you would like to join WGM in helping the University Discipleship Movement, look at the action steps below to find out how you can partner with us to make a difference in lives in Africa.

GIVE: Help provide Bibles, Bible study materials, books on leadership, and other needed materials for UDM. Make checks payable to World Gospel Mission and write account #150-21343 on the memo line. Send check donations to:

World Gospel Mission
P.O. Box 948
Marion, IN 46952-0948

MORE: Learn more about UDM Africa.

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Photo credit: Mayos